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Leo Burnett India’s Sachin Kamble on where Asia will always have the upper hand in advertising

SHANGHAI, CHINA — There is no region better at marrying culture and technology than Asia, according to Sachin Kamble, National Creative Director at Leo Burnett India. The bold declaration was made in an exclusive interview with adobo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero, held at the 2023 ONE Asia Awards judging round at the Intercontinental Shanghai Ruijin in Shanghai City.

Born and raised in the melting pot that is Mumbai, India, Sachin is one of the region’s more decorated creatives, with more than 100 national and international awards to his name. Most recently, he won the Grand Prix in Sustainable Development Goals at Cannes Lions for “The Missing Chapter,” a campaign done for Whisper. His expertise was a welcome addition to the ONE Asia Awards’ already-stacked lineup of jurors, and his insights on creativity in Asia made for rousing conversation.

“Asia is known for all this art and craft, and Japan, China – they always lead [in] tech,” Sachin shared with adobo. “Whether it’s ChatGPT, whether it’s Midjourney, Dall-E, AI has become part of our execution life.” 

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“All the AI and all the development [in] AI is going to happen [in] this region. We will always have the upper hand,” he added.

Sachin stressed, however, that tech expertise is only half of the equation. What makes Asia truly excel in creativity is in how it manages to merge new and emerging technologies with the nuances of all its diverse cultures.

“You can see it in the idea, you can see it in the execution. There are lots of different ideas which [are] rich in culture, and at the same time, they are also developing a lot of tech,” he explained, “So I can see the clear balance between the cultural aspect of it and the new-age technology.”

“I can say it’s more close to the market,” he continued. “Countries like India, China, Japan – I can see a lot of ideas which are very grounded. They solve all their ground-level problems, and I can clearly see their adaptation of new-age AI or tech. And they’re using that tech as a solution for their problems.”

One of his favorite examples of applying culture to campaigns is also one of the funniest. As India was gearing to participate in the 2022 Cricket World Cup, Oreo India began the #BringBack2011 Movement. The cricket-crazy nation – Sachin says the sport is virtually a religion in India – last won the World Cup in 2011, which also happened to be the same year that Oreo was launched in the local market. The brand tapped into the high level of superstition in sports fandoms and encouraged the market to replicate everything they could about 2011 in order to win the World Cup again.

“And the entire india just followed the message,” Sachin said. “The movies got relaunched, beers got relaunched, haircuts got relaunched. The funny thing is, people got married in 2011, and they were ready to marry again! So [there was] a great response.”

It’s through these close connections to culture that Asia should leverage their use of AI, he asserted. And because the region is also rife with social issues, brands should be looking to utilize the technology at the grassroots level. 

“The major difference which I see [in Asia] is it’s not only about entertainment or only about the campaign. Everyone wants to make that difference for society, everyone wants to make that impact, and we’re talking more about solutions and not only the entertainment of advertising,” he said. “Yes, the idea is good, but what’s the impact? How it’s going to change lives, how it’s going to impact the business—that, I think, is a big conversation.”

“AI should not be restricted only for certain people; AI should work for everyone. And that’s what we are working on,” he continued. “We should focus on how to use it on a regular basis, not only restricted to the brand’s development.”

“It’s [about] how can it be more [for] humankind? How can we create things for more people and their well-being?”

Effective advertising in tomorrow’s world, according to Sachin, will depend heavily on how creatives answer these questions. And by focusing on these solutions, he believes that Asia will more clearly define its edge over other markets when it comes to creativity.

See more of Sachin Kamble’s insights by watching the full interview below:

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